By Gerald Jones
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Additional info for Killing Monsters
Roared my fantasy self, and I followed. The Hulk led me on a passionate hunt for more comic books. When that wasn’t enough to satisfy me, he led me to meet Jack Baty and his friends, then to call up my old friend Brian to convert him to my new devotion, then to seek out new friends, other young geeks whose inner superheroes gave meaning to their private fears, rages, and wishes. Pretty soon I was founding my own comic book club. I wrote letters to comics editors and got letters back. I went to comics conventions and met the former teenage geeks whose fantasies impelled them to write and draw the stories that gave form to my own.
Adults are generally more empathetic, more attuned to the greater world, and more literalistic than children. We are more likely to feel the pain and anxiety caused by real violence when we see it in make-believe. It troubles us to see our kids having fun with something that we deplore. We fear that they are celebrating or affirming a horror that we desperately want to banish from reality. We want them to mirror our adult restraint, seriousness, compassion, and pacifism. But they can’t–and shouldn’t–mimic adult reactions.
My comic books earned citations from parent councils and antidefamation societies. I mentored kids who wanted to write and draw comics, and I worked hard to meet my readers and learn what they were getting out of my stories. That’s what led me to a comics convention in Chicago in 1994 and to a conversation that turned my relationship with action heroes in a whole new direction. The line of autograph seekers, mostly teenage boys, had finally moved through. I was leaning back for some shoptalk with the other writers at the table when I saw her.